Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beaver Sticking to Air Assault

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beaver Sticking to Air Assault

Article excerpt

Jeff Beltz can't help but chuckle when he thinks back to 2000, his first season as Beaver Area head football coach.

Not only was he taking over a Bobcats team that finished 5-5 the season before his arrival, but he also inherited a program that had just 31 players on the roster after sporting nearly 100 a decade earlier.

It's a situation he can afford to look back on with some sense of nostalgia. Those low numbers, after all, didn't ultimately end up costing him his job. Rather, 14 years later, it's a reminder of how far the program has come, a sentiment that's especially true when looking at what's become a trend in recent years -- the Bobcats sporting a high-powered offense.

After losing an accomplished quarterback from a team that crashed the WPIAL Class AA semifinals in 2013, Beaver seemingly didn't miss a beat in its season opener, cruising past Brownsville, 53-0.

Beating Brownsville, a team that went 1-8 last season, isn't particularly impressive, even by that large of a margin. But having a virtually seamless transition while breaking in a new quarterback? That's something else entirely.

In the past four seasons, Beaver has averaged at least 27 points per game. The offense, though, didn't take a drastic leap forward until Beltz implemented a spread offense last season. It was a schematic change that allowed his team to average 37.9 points per game while quarterback Alex Rowse became one of the WPIAL's top statistical passers, throwing for 2,665 yards and 40 touchdowns.

"You want to get your athlete as much space as we can and that was one of our thoughts when we went to it," Beltz said. "It's produced great results."

One game into the 2014 season -- with a different face as the system's most pivotal cog -- that level of offensive production has continued. In his first game as a starter, quarterback Zach Royba completed five passes. Of those five completions, three of them went for touchdowns, exemplifying the kind of big-play ability Beltz wants to see from the spread scheme.

Given Royba's background, there's reason to think it can continue. A senior, Royba spent half of last year under Rowse's guidance, a brief experience that has carried some powerful results thus far. …

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